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Hip-Hop is political again. Here’s why.


If you look back at hip hop in the mid 90s,
you might notice a political theme. Rappers like Ice Cube transcended music and
began to tell the story of the ghetto through film. Lauryn Hill was preaching gender equality
in songs like Everything is Everything. [More powerful than two cleopatras, bomb graffiti,
on the tomb of Nefertiti, emcees ain’t ready to take it to the serengeti, my rhymes is
heavy, like the mind of sister betty (el Shabazz!)] Rappers like Tupac, Nas, and Biggie Smalls
who made music that uplifted and educated young people from the projects But somewhere around the turn of the decade,
things changed. Politically conscious hip-hop gained steam
underground, but began to exit pop-culture. Underground artists like Mos Def stayed true
to to conscious rap. But the rise of crunk & gangster rap made hip-hop look more like
a rowdy party scene. But in 2015, Hip-Hop returned to politics. Kendrick Lamar spearheaded the return with
his grammy nominated album To Pimp a Butterfly. The title itself is commentary on the role
of black artists in commercial music. President Obama named a song from the album
— How Much A Dollar Cost — as his favorite of the year. In it, Lamar disregards a homeless man who
turns out to be god. The lyrics weigh the literal value of a dollar
against that of helping someone in need. And Kendrick isn’t the only one who made
a statement last year. [Borders, what’s up with that?] Killer Mike gained notoriety on the strength
of the anarchy-themed Run The Jewels project. He also endorsed presidential candidate Bernie
Sanders. [And you make sure that when they leave, they
are on fire, because they have felt the Bern] And for four weeks straight, Straight Outta
Compton topped the box office. It tells the story of NWA, the 1980s rap group known for
criticizing the police. But the forefathers of hip hop have always
been sociopolitical. [Fight the Power] They were influenced by protest music that
came before theirs. So, why is now different? Over the past couple of years, several cases
of police brutality against unarmed black people have drawn the nation’s attention. Groups like #BlackLivesMatter are meeting
with presidential candidates; And conversations about injustice travel faster than ever through
social media. If you look at this chart of public opinion
on whether racism is a “big problem” – you see it was pretty high in 1995. By 2009, when
Obama took office, it had dropped to 26%, but has since spiked back up to 50%. Since 2013, the number of Americans saying
race relations are “good” has dropped by 15 percentage points among blacks and 27
points among whites. Public awareness has clearly shifted. And
in many ways, the success of political hip hop reflects that change

100 Comments

  1. Sailor Seas
    Sailor Seas September 26, 2016

    Too bad that musicians have a loud voice, because a lot of them are morons or in-genuine .

  2. Allan Guzman
    Allan Guzman September 26, 2016

    CAN SOMEONE TELL THIS GUY TO SPEAK UP

  3. roxy
    roxy September 26, 2016

    yo anyone hamilton?

  4. P S
    P S September 29, 2016

    We had lupe tbh.. And immortal technique

  5. OHM-968692
    OHM-968692 September 30, 2016

    I think I much prefer this type of rap which actually talks about something meaningful than the happy rap made for money.

  6. Isaac V
    Isaac V October 2, 2016

    its always been political lmfao

  7. A S
    A S October 5, 2016

    this audio is disgusting

  8. Victor
    Victor October 6, 2016

    Eminem was always political

  9. bilalha123
    bilalha123 October 9, 2016

    Immortal technique is the greatest political rapper of this generation.

  10. Leroy Jenkins
    Leroy Jenkins October 13, 2016

    Just a reminder, the racism and police brutality isn't new, and it never stopped. It just started getting a lot of exposure through the internet.

  11. Tealk
    Tealk October 18, 2016

    this is the problem, When i say I like hip-hop, people assume that I'm this black lives matter activist. Infact, I may disagree with the message in most poitical hip-hop. But i love the music, It's just people being misinformed about wether or not police brutality against black people is a big issue. This video seemed a bit pro blm. thus making it a poor excuse for journalism. And a sad attempt at research when it comes to statistics.

  12. 44GG
    44GG October 20, 2016

    Your story with the album is so similar to mine it's strange. Nice review.

  13. Kiwi
    Kiwi October 27, 2016

    ugh this is so america based

  14. jopln
    jopln November 15, 2016

    what was that last song?

  15. Khaled Salhani
    Khaled Salhani November 23, 2016

    Great video but you forgot about Lupe Fiasco who considered to be one of the best conscious rappers.

  16. Mattscott41
    Mattscott41 December 4, 2016

    Can you turn off the creepy voice?

  17. KoKi original
    KoKi original December 27, 2016

    When someone talks about conscious rap but doesn't mention Immortal Technique…

  18. nelson kaboots
    nelson kaboots January 3, 2017

    Hip-hop was always strongest when political anyway, when giving voice to the oppressed, that's the whole origin of hip-hop. Not Chris Brown and Drake bragging about how many woman they've slept with.
    Kendrick Lamar truly spoke to me with 'To Pimp a Butterfly', the topics he dove into in it are naked truth most people would rather ignore. It' was definetily my favourite album of that year. So thank you Kendrick

  19. Mel Watson
    Mel Watson February 3, 2017

    kendrick been the goat

  20. sahmir johnson
    sahmir johnson February 9, 2017

    New upcoming artist please give it a listen đź‘‚ https://soundcloud.com/kingdoomie/ntfyw-prod-by-j-wiz

  21. Emrana Khatun
    Emrana Khatun February 18, 2017

    vox need to check out Lupe Fiasco

  22. jonwthan richman
    jonwthan richman February 22, 2017

    Biggie Smalls was not political.

  23. harry potter
    harry potter February 23, 2017

    just to think VOX has only 1M breaks my heart. they work so hard they deserve more exposure

  24. Ibrahim Mohiuddin
    Ibrahim Mohiuddin February 28, 2017

    Vox should make a sub channel with longer videos, everything on here is so good

  25. khwezi c
    khwezi c March 7, 2017

    10 South African rand is roughly equivalent to 1 dollar

  26. Tim Cheung
    Tim Cheung March 10, 2017

    2:38 I was deep in the subject until a wild Rattata appeared

  27. Blackgvds
    Blackgvds March 20, 2017

    love it

  28. jzhang
    jzhang March 29, 2017

    Vox can you please provide the sources of the stats you had in the video?

  29. Fulano De Tal
    Fulano De Tal April 7, 2017

    What??? Was that Lecrae in the bottom right??? Anomaly and Church Clothes 3 for the win!

  30. latebluebird
    latebluebird April 10, 2017

    where is he getting his stats?

  31. McKinley graves
    McKinley graves April 12, 2017

    We wuz kangs

  32. Linsel Greene
    Linsel Greene April 12, 2017

    Referring to the graph at the 3 minute mark — What happened in 2007 to push race relations in opposite directions? Is it possible that the candidacy of Obama led blacks to claim that racial relations had become worse while whites felt it had improved racial relations?

  33. _''The Therapist'_
    _''The Therapist'_ April 13, 2017

    "Ten rand"? South African currency…. I was born in South Africa by the way.

  34. Another Human
    Another Human April 15, 2017

    what about Hamilton

  35. zac, thine savior of clout
    zac, thine savior of clout April 20, 2017

    King Kunta will never die🙏🏾🙌🏾

  36. Jason Cox
    Jason Cox April 20, 2017

    they listed get low and the whisper song as coming out in 1999, but they came out in 2002 and 2005 respectively. whoops.

  37. ErikTheRed33
    ErikTheRed33 April 20, 2017

    What happened in '06 that made white people think race relations were improving, but had the opposite effect on blacks?

  38. jt 84
    jt 84 April 21, 2017

    I miss the 90's

  39. Just A Black Atheist
    Just A Black Atheist April 22, 2017

    Vox must've scared off the racist trolls with this video.

  40. mayer8356
    mayer8356 April 22, 2017

    My gosh, turn your mic down

  41. bright side one
    bright side one April 23, 2017

    Be Humble !

  42. Kian Gibson
    Kian Gibson April 24, 2017

    Are you really going to leave Joey Bada$$ and his new album All Amerikkkan Bada$$ off of the list of politically minded rap albums? Probably one of the most politically motivated rap albums I have ever heard.

  43. illman300
    illman300 April 24, 2017

    when was biggie a conscious rapper? LOL, and showing nelly as an example of gangsta rap is just hilarious.

  44. CHEEJOEKAY
    CHEEJOEKAY April 24, 2017

    The video maker needs to check their facts. Biggie and Pac were hot during the peak of gangsta rap and Biggie wasn't political while 2pac got less political as his fame grew.
    we gotta chill with the 90s romanticism

  45. Knowledgeable Reaction
    Knowledgeable Reaction April 24, 2017

    talks about political rap doesn't mention Lupe Fiasco…like WHY!?

  46. hzl blt
    hzl blt April 27, 2017

    "rise of gangsta rap made rap a rowdy scene" Gangsta rap was really political, whassup??

  47. Mellowman
    Mellowman April 28, 2017

    hip hop has been political for years it just has been underground for a while

  48. 254.Eric
    254.Eric April 29, 2017

    Whats the song at 0:33 ?

  49. Jacqueline Woo
    Jacqueline Woo April 30, 2017

    Before RTJ i was disenfranchised. Gave up. They opened me up to politically conscious rap that i had given up on. I'm so grateful.

  50. Joseph Markus
    Joseph Markus April 30, 2017

    Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Desiigner to name a few of the less-political hip hop artists

  51. Tripplerizz
    Tripplerizz May 4, 2017

    Kind of an abrupt ending

  52. Duck Sicked
    Duck Sicked May 5, 2017

    Why would you put Nas with 2pac and biggie

  53. Austin Hill
    Austin Hill May 5, 2017

    The South ruined hip-hop

  54. jose carranza
    jose carranza May 8, 2017

    finally

  55. BlueDreamKush23
    BlueDreamKush23 May 10, 2017

    Why is it that most conservatives hate it when hip hop gets political?
    A genuine question

  56. Gale P
    Gale P May 11, 2017

    This is especially all apparent if you watch the get down. It shows how political hip hop developed into mainstream America and how life was for people in the Bronx in the 70s

  57. Andrew N
    Andrew N June 2, 2017

    In pop music in general, why does rap have to be the only genre to be overtly political in order to have any meaningful aesthetic value (to be accepted by the well-intentioned "w" liberals at Vox)? Scratching my head hard af.

  58. Franklin Freshman
    Franklin Freshman June 9, 2017

    biggie using music to uplift people ??

  59. Jabari Jones
    Jabari Jones June 9, 2017

    I think the video producer needs to do their research… anybody who uses Mia and hip hop in the same sentence hasn't read all her comments about hip hop, or black culture.

  60. KaTsuDON™
    KaTsuDON™ July 15, 2017

    this game me actual cancer

  61. Coldinkr
    Coldinkr July 25, 2017

    ?? um lupe? Outkast? this video needs more research

  62. YUNGBOYS
    YUNGBOYS July 26, 2017

    I was expecting lil pump

  63. Antidote Audio
    Antidote Audio July 28, 2017

    Im a hooked on these vox music videos!

  64. Carrot Cake
    Carrot Cake July 31, 2017

    Wtf are you talking about. You named one mainstream artist (Lamar). Then you named a couple artists that aren't famous. Most mainstream artists today are not political. In fact it's probably less than in the 2000s. You named only nelly but Nas was still popular and there was Eminem and old Kanye and a hell of a lot more than today

  65. Justin
    Justin August 7, 2017

    GET A NEW MIC

  66. Nash Fan
    Nash Fan August 9, 2017

    Lupe goes hard…

  67. Denzel Dondiego
    Denzel Dondiego August 30, 2017

    Anyone have any good rap suggestions?

  68. normcix as
    normcix as September 1, 2017

    Political Hip-Hop/Rap never left.., What u are talking about except RTJ is just scratching the surface.

  69. VANIA
    VANIA September 17, 2017

    ten rand?

  70. Samuel Schönenberger
    Samuel Schönenberger September 17, 2017

    "Racism isn't getting worse, it is getting filmed" -Will Smith

  71. The Sea
    The Sea September 21, 2017

    all music is political, it serves the purpose of the artist

  72. ok then
    ok then October 23, 2017

    What is this bs?
    Honestly I can anyone here even name one "Hip-Hop Artist" who is Republican Or other? Exactly so don't say Hip-Hop has become political "AGAIN"

    And if you say Kanye West I will laser you

  73. May Jeganmogan
    May Jeganmogan October 31, 2017

    loved this video

    to be more specific about mia, her advocacy wasnt just for the disenfranchised in general but a lot of the time for the struggle of tamil people during and following the sri lankan civil war.

  74. Ryan West
    Ryan West November 11, 2017

    and then there is drake and kanye

  75. Ocean George
    Ocean George December 14, 2017

    Red Eagle- Still Here
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEz47JRIDqU

  76. Chris RTJ
    Chris RTJ December 23, 2017

    "Early" was on the RTJ 2 project in 2014

  77. Aswawarman
    Aswawarman January 4, 2018

    Y'all brought up TPAB but didn't mention the masterpiece that is "Alright" ? Smh

  78. rodenrren2
    rodenrren2 January 25, 2018

    To do a video about political hip hop and not even mention the number 1 political rapper is insulting not just to Immortal Technique but to hip hop as a culture in general

  79. Matthew Sanchez
    Matthew Sanchez January 29, 2018

    Anyone know who narrates the video?

  80. Vuvuzela
    Vuvuzela January 30, 2018

    fake news

  81. Matheus Guifer
    Matheus Guifer February 6, 2018

    this video made me position my captions all over my screen

  82. Joyce Li
    Joyce Li February 19, 2018

    no eminem?

  83. gado
    gado February 20, 2018

    What does the question at 2:56 mean, I don't get the word racial relations..is it a white person is in a relationship with a black person (or vice versa)?

  84. Han Brolo
    Han Brolo February 21, 2018

    Absolutely loved this video but how was Biggie political?

  85. Rap ain't even my favorite genre bro
    Rap ain't even my favorite genre bro February 22, 2018

    You have new subscriber

  86. flipflipi
    flipflipi March 17, 2018

    pls update the video to accomodate Donald trump as US president and all the changes of the last 2 years

  87. Asokumaraan Selokumar
    Asokumaraan Selokumar March 21, 2018

    well, nobody is more political than Tupac during the height of his rap game…even public enemy, the rappers started political rap might come to 2nd to pac

  88. antichrist pug
    antichrist pug March 22, 2018

    Gucci gang gucci gang

  89. Ronnie Libra
    Ronnie Libra April 28, 2018

    Ye vs The people just went political af

  90. Marco LimA
    Marco LimA July 20, 2018

    Meanwhile Hip-hop stayed political in other countries..
    And not only because of race issues..

  91. Fleezus Christ
    Fleezus Christ August 12, 2018

    Biggie was never politically conscious

  92. Petak Is my Name
    Petak Is my Name September 6, 2018

    uhm hip hop has been political all along, it all comes down to what u chose to listen to.

  93. KrispyKraspy
    KrispyKraspy September 12, 2018

    Like me!

  94. MG
    MG February 2, 2019

    Hip hop returned to politics in 2015? So Kanye's conscious music like New Slaves didn't exist before then? Hell even Kendrick's own Good Kid maad City and Section 80 were political. Conscious rap never left. You just see it more talked about because everyone and everything is political these days.

  95. Marcus Carcus
    Marcus Carcus February 12, 2019

    This guy smacks his lips way too much.

  96. Umar’sCookingKariWithMarcus
    Umar’sCookingKariWithMarcus April 14, 2019

    Grammy winning*

  97. The Bread Book
    The Bread Book May 26, 2019

    dead prez

  98. Abraham
    Abraham June 11, 2019

    I really don’t like when rappers try to be political….it doesn’t work well…and it can mess a lot of things up.

  99. Mr.Legend
    Mr.Legend July 30, 2019

    ASMR

  100. Leroy 077
    Leroy 077 August 28, 2019

    And then Trump came

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